The Maker Program encourages children to find create ways to solve problems using the science, technology, engineering, and math
The young child from Prince George County couldn’t believe what was before him – a radio he had made with his very own hands. But it was about so much more than just one radio.
“I can’t believe it! I built a radio and it works. I can do anything!” he said.
The child was one of the many who participated in the Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Maker program and learned about their untapped potential.
Maker programming encourages thinking by doing hands-on activities to create and modify objects by repurposing, reusing, up-cycling, fabricating or employing shortcuts and novel, untried methods to problem-solve. It’s also part and parcel of a comprehensive initiative aligned with research supported by exterior entities such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to make science more accessible to youth and in doing so, instilling intrinsic motivation for learning.
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One of the many thank-you notes that Mike Andruczyk has received since launching a tree-planting program in Chesapeake.
If the drawing of the smiling girl standing in front of a rainbow and a tree weren’t enough to convey the impact of a Virginia Cooperative Extension program in the City of Chesapeake, then the writing underneath it did.
“Thank you for our katsura tree. You are awesome and great. I wish I was a tree planter like you,” a first-grader named Jenesis wrote in neat, tight handwriting. “Trees are beautiful to me!”
It was just one of the many thank-you notes that Extension Horticulture Agent Mike Andruczyk has received since launching the What is a Tree program that teaches students — many of who have never planted anything in their lives – about the value of trees.
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Senior Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Agent Ruth Wallace (left) stands with a group of children and adults in Senegal. In March of this year Extension and the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture Program traveled to the West African nation to scale up programming in the region. Reggie Morris, 4-H Youth Development Extension agent in Alexandria, is pictured in second row, second from right.
When it was time to take nominations for officers of the 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program in the Senegalese village of Toubacouta, one young woman stood out.
As Aida Nathalie Dieng’s hand shot up almost unconsciously to volunteer for the position of president, she spoke in a determined way about why she wanted to serve as the leader of the club in her village, and toward the end of her speech tears began to run down her cheeks.
“Having the opportunity to be heard is empowering, and even moving,” said Kathleen Jamison, professor emerita and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in 4-H youth development.
Jamison and her team recently took the mission of Virginia Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Positive Youth Development in Agriculture program to the West African nation with the goal of building ties between children, families, and communities to give individuals the ability to live sustainable and meaningful lives that exemplify 4-H mission goals.
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VSU becomes first HBCU licensed to teach USDA/FSA Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program
Ettrick, Va. – Until last year, Virginia farmers applying for a USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan were required to take an on-line Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program offered by private companies for $300-$600. The program offers valuable financial management and crop production skills aimed at boosting farm profitability and income, but many farmers find it costly and inconvenient to take online.
Three years ago, representatives from FSA and Virginia State University’s Small Farm Outreach Program, a Virginia Cooperative Extension program, met to discuss a better way to assist Virginia farmers in meeting the mandatory FSA financial and production management borrower training requirements. Both organizations agreed that the current process could use improving.
“Many farmers don’t like the idea of taking online courses, let alone in the evening after putting in a day in the field,” said Mike Wooden, assistant director, VSU Small Farm Outreach Program. “It was hard for them to wrap their minds around balance sheets, cash flow and marketing principles after putting in a full day’s work.”
As a result of that meeting, Virginia State University (VSU) applied to FSA to be a licensed program vendor, or teacher. The University met the criteria and was approved two years ago to administer the course, making it the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to be certified in teaching the FSA’s Agribusiness Production and Financial Management Program. In addition, VSU applied for and received from the FSA a three-year grant in the amount of $250,000 to administer the program, which is designed especially for limited resource farmers.
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he Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech received the 2015 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program Award.
The award was presented at the National Association of Agricultural Educators annual convention in New Orleans on Nov. 18. Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results is one of only four programs nationwide that received the 2015 award.
The program is a two-year fellowship for adults working in agriculture who want to develop their communication, problem solving, and critical thinking skills, in addition to broadening their knowledge of global and local agriculture. The mission of Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results is to develop leaders who can effectively engage all segments of the Virginia agriculture community to create collaborative solutions and promote agriculture.
The program is housed in the Department of Agricultural and Extension Education and receives funding from participant fees, the college, and Virginia Cooperative Extension, as well as from philanthropy from individual donors, industry organizations and, agribusinesses. Its success stems from raising participants’ awareness of the diversity and profitability of agriculture in Virginia.